Every entrepreneur I meet has his or her own story. Many of them are just like me in that they came from humble beginnings. While the particulars of their journeys differ greatly, I’ve noticed that common themes emerge. For example, I often find that high achievers knew from an early age what they wanted to accomplish, even though they had little idea of how to get to their ultimate goal.

Another is that they’re passionate about being successful on their own terms. You can call that being fiercely independent or even stubborn. I prefer to call them mavericks. They know what they know and typically it’s more than most of their competitors. They also are very sure of themselves and don’t tolerate fools easily.

In my own journey I’ve found that there are two kinds of knowledge. In the first category are the things you simply have to know to be a leader and to gain the confidence of your clients. Mastering those aspects of your trade empowers you to become a Voice of Authority. I’m exceptionally fortunate that I attract clients of this unique breed to Imperium Authority, my public relations agency.

The second category of knowledge are things you must know about but that you don’t need to know how to do them yourself. If you’re a genius in assisting clients with their tax strategies such as David A. Perez or Joel Sandoval, you will outperform virtually all other advisors to high net worth individuals and business owners by specializing in those professional skills.

At the same time, to be successful one must admit that they can’t know everything. A good example of this is doing digital marketing well. Not every entrepreneur has the ability or interest in creating their own website or online marketing campaigns. When I needed a website which would represent my services, I was intent on specific goals. I wanted it to be easy to navigate and show examples of how I serve my clients. Most of all, I wanted to be sure visitors instantly saw the value of making public relations a core component of their marketing.

My friend and mentor Jason Miller, founder and CEO of Strategic Advisor Board suggested I place my trust with Joel Phillips, founder of Proshark. “He’s the best, most knowledgeable thought leader in digital marketing,” Jason told me. I followed his advice and found that everything Jason said was absolutely true. I interviewed Joel recently and transcribed his pointers so you too can benefit from his wisdom.

What is your favorite aspect of being a leader in the digital marketing industry?

I work closely with entrepreneurs on a daily basis. Every new day is a different experience filled with challenges to meet and problems to solve. It’s super creative, which I love, but also involves harnessing some extremely powerful and exciting technologies. The world of marketing has changed dramatically over the past decade. In fact, the opportunities for promoting products and marketing directly to millions of consumers have grown exponentially just in the last few years. So, for me, it’s interacting with entrepreneurs and helping them achieve their dreams.

What do you do differently than other web development companies?

In my role as a digital marketing expert, I help my clients meet their marketing goals in a variety of ways. Most of them involve raising the profile of their business and often that also means amplifying their own presence as a CEO and thought leader in the industry in which they compete. Although our clients are seasoned professionals and capable of almost anything they put their mind to, they wisely know that digital marketing is a complicated and involved process best left to specialists.

You told me that you believe educating your clients is an important part of what Proshark does.

In contributing to the success of our customers we’re ever mindful that even the most accomplished entrepreneur can’t possibly know everything it takes to develop, launch, and maintain world-class digital marketing programs. To help orient them on what we do and how we ensure the best possible outcomes, we provide them with information that should be taken into consideration by anyone interested in leaving the best possible digital footprint.

When we first met you gave me a checklist of what I needed to watch out for as my business grew. Could you expand on those topics for my readers?

As in every profession, there are many commonly overlooked aspects of digital marketing and IT that are often missed or ignored, despite the devastating impact any of them might have if things go sideways. Here are the most important.

1. Protect your assets

In today’s world of cybercrime, ransomware, and hacking, it sounds crazy but it’s true – security is the #1 most overlooked aspect of most small to medium-sized businesses. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest challenges to take care of. The simple fact is, a security breach can easily put you out of business. Once a hacker is in your network, there is almost no limit to the damage they can do. Businesses doing ecommerce are especially vulnerable due to the sensitive nature of handling financial transactions online.

Don’t take chances. Find a reputable security professional who understands how to work with a business your size. They will perform an audit of your network, website and digital assets and report the weaknesses they find. We perform this service for roughly half of our clients because they understand how much they have at risk, especially as we make them more successful!

2. Evaluate your online presence

Most companies don’t know anything about their digital footprint and how the public perceives them. Even businesses with physical locations such as restaurants, hotels, car dealerships, retailers are typically found through an online search, and that almost always means Google. The old expression that you only have one chance to make a good first impression is absolutely true.

A solid, highly recommended digital marketing agency will start their engagement with you by conduiting a thorough review of your website, social media accounts, Google Business Profile, online review sites, search results, and over 80 additional items on our extensive checklist. Removing inaccuracies, outdated information, unfair negative reviews, and measuring your reputation status are just the first steps in making your business easier to find, look professional and generally shine online in every way possible. Reputation monitoring and advertising is crucial to earning the trust of consumers and preventing harm to your brand.

3. Don’t waste advertising budget

Many marketing companies – and especially Google of course – won’t tell you this but paid ads alone are no longer a viable marketing strategy. Just as a large percentage of businesses learned the hard way that Facebook was not as viable an advertising medium as they had been told or hoped, smart marketers know that keyword advertising and social media ads are simply a subset of everything else going on in a full fidelity marketing effort.

Spending most of your marketing budget on keyword advertising is extremely risky and can prevent you from pursuing other avenues which deliver a higher ROI. A truly holistic digital marketing strategy brings to bear a number of key delivery mechanisms to get your message in front of your target audience. Among them are:

Public relations: Often referred to as earned media, this is content pitched to editors, reporters, and freelance writers for use by print, digital, and broadcast news outlets. I always recommend my clients speak with you James to get the best perspective on how to do PR effectively and correctly.

Content marketing: Blog posts, articles, case studies, whitepapers, social media posts created to tell your story and explain your value proposition

Email: Fresh leads, not rented lists, but prospects you have gotten opt-in permission from, often from incentives on your websites, landing pages and other marketing

Mobile: Mobile-optimized website, SMS / MMS text messages, paid ads on apps, etc.

Sales funnels and landing pages: Visitors harvested from search and other traffic-generating activities are directed to a web page with a single purpose – to convert them into a sale or at least garner their name, email address and sometimes their phone number.

Influencers: Endorsements from high profile personalities on social media such as Instagram, TikTok, etc.

Pay-to-Play Contributor platforms: News outlets which permit freelance writers to post content of their own choosing, often on behalf of paying clients

SEO: Techniques to improve your organic traffic by optimizing keywords, backlinks, news releases, earned media content, etc.

Video: People are reading less and have little time to wade through a lot of content. Video offers the alternative of showing what you want to convey on your website, landing pages, ads, social media posts, YouTube, and even on streaming platforms if you have the budget

Webinars: Live video conferences which can then be made available for re-watching on demand

Programmatic advertising: Ads spread over hundreds of websites that you buy with pre-set bidding

Behavioral retargeting: Also called ‘follow me’ advertising use tracking technologies which make it possible to serve up relevant ads after someone has visited your website; you’ve probably noticed it yourself, especially when you watch a video on YouTube and see companies you recently Googled or had even the slightest interaction with previously. It may seem a bit creepy, but it’s amazingly effective. One thing you have to remember here though, is that retargeting is now completely different than it used to be before Apple and Google privacy policy changes. Find a pro that knows how to help you with this. 

4. Understand the online ecosystem

Big tech is changing the landscape in ways which deeply affect your marketing. For example, in 2023 Google will no longer allow third-party cookies to be implanted in Chrome, the world’s most popular browser with 63% market share. Some of the policies implemented by the tech giants are useful for protecting consumers and their privacy; others are simply money grabs designed to control an ever-increasing amount of your online life.

All digital marketing professionals should be knowledgeable about these issues and tracking them on a daily basis. You can’t do results-driven, cost-effective digital marketing without knowing how to maneuver around the shifting landscape.

5. Do your marketing consistently

Rather than create a strategy themselves or enlist the assistance of an expert, many companies jump from one marketing channel to the next in effort to get a return on their marketing dollar. You wouldn’t switch accounting firms because your quarterly results are poor, so why try a select few digital marketing strategies for a short while expecting miracles? When first meeting with a digital marketing firm, ask how they would develop a customized strategy for you and what kind of monthly reporting they offer to keep you informed of the progress being made.

The best marketing campaigns are based on a minimum 10 month cycle and adjusted as the analytics are reviewed and results measured. Don’t undermine your own efforts with a half-hearted commitment to marketing your goods and services.

Proshark has been in business for just about 10 years and we have grown by serving a tremendously varied roster of clients. We treat each like a trusted partner, because when it comes to generating prospects, helping close sales, and driving growth, it’s essential we have a partner mindset. I can assure you of this – having the opportunity to see high performing business men and women in action is never dull. Not only do I learn a tremendous amount about how successful businesses are built, but I see up close what makes successful people tick. In some ways I have the best job in the world. 

Thank you, Joel. Clearly you have an encyclopedic knowledge of your areas of expertise.  I understand you provide a no cost, no obligation audit of the online presence of entrepreneurs interested in getting their digital marketing right.

Yes, I invite your readers to contact us for a complimentary audit of their online assets.

About Joel Phillips

Joel Phillips is the founder and CEO of Proshark, a leading digital marketing agency with offices in Boulder, Colorado, Temecula, California, and Sarasota, Florida. Throughout his career he’s held corporate leadership positions in software, security, and consumer products, where he earned a reputation as problem solver and ‘growth hacker’.

A serial entrepreneur with several successful companies in real estate and technology, Joel is passionate about building and growing dynamic businesses through Proshark’s digital marketing services and his involvement as Director and VP of Technology at The Strategic Advisor Board (SAB). Led by Jason Miller, SAB is a business consultancy which coaches entrepreneurs on how to accelerate growth, improve operational efficiencies, and stake out leadership status within the markets they serve.

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